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Rajasthan, ‘The Land Of Kings” is India at its exotic and colourful best. The destinations suggested below take us through a time machine a few hundreds of years back in time. We find ourselves in extremely remote tribal areas of Rajasthan where life is as primitive as primitive can be. This enables us to capture images of tribal life at its best – in all its traditional colours and innocent hospitality. The highlight of the tour is stays in royal palaces, forts & castles – imposing buildings replete with luxury, character and Old World charm.
Life outside these amazing buildings is a contrast. Life is very primitive and traditional; typical homes with mud plastered or cow dung plastered walls and hay thatched roofs; narrow lanes or trails broad enough only for camel carts or donkey carts; traditional costumes of men & women; primitive agricultural techniques of plough being drawn by men or bulls; traditional occupations of wood carving, block printing, pottery etc. For most people here, their world ends where the village ends. The village itself is self-sufficient; they have their local bazaar and a village temple with a village deity in it. – The deity is supreme and responsible for anything and everything that effect the day to day life of the natives. The only other God that comes a close second to their village deity are members of the royal family who inhabit the palaces, forts and castles that dominate their village.
The feudal respect for the rulers has been retained over several generations. Time seems to have come to a standstill here. The experience is like travelling through a living museum .The Tour is a photographer’s paradise offering innumerable opportunities to capture virgin lifestyle images unchanged for centuries. Finally, the distances between destination are very small. This not only cuts out the travel time, but encourages people to have time in hand to explore the country side on the way at their own pace. You would have an opportunity to interact with the locals, visit villages and tribal homes etc. You could do all this and more without worrying about loosing time on journeys. Also, we believe that the sights and experiences that come up on way to a destination are more fascinating and natural compared to the destination itself.
Of Course the crowning Glory of the tour is the Taj Mahal – the most photographed monument in the worldA fitting climax to our back street adventures in Rajasthan.
Rajasthan – A Living Museum Tour Package begins with an arrival in Delhi, the capital city of India. After completing formalities with customs and immigration, you will be received by our representative with Traditional Indian Welcome (with garlands).
Delhi is the capital of India since old times. Delhi’s history dates back to the first millenium BC, when it was known as Indraprastha. The Tomar Rajputs built Lal Kot, the core of the first of Delhi’s seven cities. It is the epicenter of the nation’s politics, economy and culture. History is alive and throbbing in Delhi, the capital of India.
Afterwards transfer to your hotel for the overnight stay.
Following breakfast, embark on a guided tour of New Delhi, Visiting such sights as Bahai Temple , Humayun’s Tomb (1586) , the Qutab Minar 72 meters high and one of the most perfect towers in the Persian world. The Iron Pillar which has survived the vagaries of weather for over 1500 years. Continue with a drive through Embassy area, the Government buildings (1921-1930) and Connaught Place, the heart and main shopping district of the capital.
Cross the city and into the walled gates of the Old Delhi. The capital of Muslim India between the 17th and 19th centuries, Old Delhi seems somewhat anachronistic as compared to New Delhi. It draws one through congested roads and lanes, interesting mosques, monuments and forts relating to its chequered history. Visit includes the Jamma Mosque (1650) and drive through the fabled area of Chandni Chowk (aptly translates to Moonlight Square) where the throngs of shoppers and vendors meet in the oldest area of Delhi, on to the Red Fort (1639-1648 built by Shah Jehan the builder of the Taj Mahal in Agra) to view the inlaid and carved Royal Chambers, on to Raj Ghat and nearby ghats where the founder of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi and thereafter Prime Minsters of India Late Smt. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were cremated.
Home Visit & A Welcome Dinner :
This evening we visit and Indian family for an Indian home experience. The evening is designed to give you a ‘feel’ and insight into Indian family life as well as experience typical Indian hospitality and home made Indian food.
Overnight will be in Delhi
Following breakfast, embark on the visit to the “Delhi Haat”, a bustling crafts village where artisans and craftsmen from various parts of India arrive to display and sell their wares. Here one can have an excellent opportunity to shop for fabrics, paper mache, woodcraft, etc. This place is very popular with middle class Indian’s as the quality and price here are both very good.
Late evening, transfer to the train station to board the Rajdhani Express to Ahmedabad.
(Overnight On Train)
Meeting & assistance upon arrival and drive to Dungarpur.
Upon arrival check into the Udai Bilas Palace. The history of Udai Bilas Palace, Dungarpur, Rajasthan dates from the mid-19th century, when Maharawal Udai Singhji-II, a great patron of art and architecture built a wing of bluish grey local stone “Pareva” overlooking the lake and the ” Ek Thambia Mahal,” featuring intricate sculptured pillars and panels, ornate balconies, balustrades, bracketed windows, arches and frieze of marble carvings, a veritable marvel of Rajput architecture. The Udai Bilas Palace was enlarged in 1940 by Maharawal Laxman Singhji, who built three new wings around the “Ek Thambia Mahal” (Literally one- pillared Palace) and thus created the famous” courtyard of the palace. The result is an architectural expression exquisitely detailed. Still the royal residence, the Palace offers accommodation in the houseguest tradition with seventeen spacious and lavishly appointed bedrooms. No two rooms are alike; each room enchants with its own personality, spaciousness and modern comforts and offers a unique experience. The Furnishings are mostly from the 20th century art-deco style, marble bathrooms with English fixtures and running hot and cold water. Meals are served either in the banquet hall, which displays crystal chandeliers, or in the more intimate family dining room. Continental or Chinese dishes are also served. Overnight will be in Dungarpur.
The district is the stronghold of Bheels, a tribe whose history of occupancy in the Aravalli range is said to date back to 4000 BC. They are one of the oldest and most primitive tribes of the world. This morning we will visit some of these unspoiled Bheel hamlets in and around the town. We will witness and photograph age-old tribal lifestyles and customs handed down over the centuries. You would have an opportunity to meet villagers who have never interacted with people from outside their village!! Say hello to people, allow them to get used to you and then, you may go ahead with your pictures. You would soon end up as the pied piper followed by scores of noisy and happy children!!!
Return to the hotel by mid morning to enjoy the destination at leisure. Udai Bilas Palace is a round-the-year paradise for bird watchers. The cooler months from mid October to February are the best to see winter migratory birds when birds can be observed in attractive plumage. One can see from the Palace itself at remarkably close range egrets, night and pond herons, white necked and painted storks, coots and winter or resident ducks among others, depending on the season of your visit. Birds are also plentiful in the surrounding wood lands where one can hope to see the Grey Hornbill, Gray Partridge, Green Pigeon, Peafowl, Peacocks, Paradise fly-catcher and the Golden backed woodpecker, to name a few representative species. You may proceed on a leisurely walk around the lake or heir boat for a special boat trip on the lake as well as a gentle trek through the forests so that the nature lover in you is able to enjoy the beauty of the place and are able to get a close look at the bird life.
Late afternoon visit the ancient fortified ruins of the Old Fort. Besides fine panoramic view of the ancient town of Dungarpur the fort has well preserved examples of natural colour paintings and incredible art and architecture.
Overnight will be in Dungarpur.
Following breakfast, we drive to Udaipur. Royal capital of a divine dynasty. Languid Lake City, strewn with marble palaces, hibiscus – massed gardens, fountain pavilions, and cobbled medieval gardens.
Welcome to Udaipur, the famed “City of sunrise “. Founded in 1567 by Maharana Udai Singh, from the lineage of the legendary Sisodias of Mewar – the decedents of the sun God. A city where the sun truly never set, where tradition and a strict code of heroism were happily united with a love of fine living. A city that has come to be an oasis of romance in the warrior state of Rajasthan.
Upon arrival check into the hotel Jagat Niwas.
Afternoon is at leisure for nature walks, visits to the bustling bazaars or just to enjoy your charming heritage hotel overlooking the tranquil Lake Pichola.
Overnight will be in Udaipur.
Morning, proceed on a tour of this “Lake City”. Udaipur is a cool oasis in the dry heart of Rajasthan. It is probably the most romantic city in a state where every city has some romantic or exotic tale to tell. The huge city palace towering over the Lake Pichola is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Though it is a conglomeration of buildings built by successive rulers, it manages to retain a surprising uniformity of design and affords very fine view of the lake and the city from the upper terraces. The Jagadish temple next to the city palace enshrines a black stone image of Lord Vishnu and his vehicle- a mighty bird called garuda – in a brass image. The temple is a very fine example of Indo-Aryan Art.
Overnight will be in Udaipur.
Following breakfast a two-hour drive to Kumbhalgarh. We would have photo stop several times as we walk through the countryside as well as interact with primitive tribals.
Upon arrival we check into the beautifully preserved Aodhi Lodge – a property of the Royal family of Udaipur.
Afternoon, we explore the beautifully preserved and one of the most majestic forts of India. 13 mountain peaks surround the impregnable fortress of Kumbalgarh (54 Kms) at a height of 3281 ft. Seven towering gateways pierce the massive walls of this prominent fortress of Mewar. The young Udai Singh founder of Udaipur took shelter here from his treacherous uncles. Emperor Akbar was defeated by these impregnable walls dotted with cannonballs.
Overnight will be in Kumbhalgarh.
Following breakfast, we would have an opportunity to explore the feudal village of Kumbhalgarh. The people here are extremely friendly and hospitable. We witness their ethnic tribal lifestyle.
We continue our ride to the interiors of Rajasthan to witness tribal life untouched by modern times.
Upon arrival at Ghanerao we check into the Royal Ghanerao Castle, a property of the Royal Family of Mewar. We stay at the Ghanerao Royal Castle to step back into the past and re-live it. Here truly time stands still to let you bask in the sunshine of the bygone era. Besides all modern comforts the royal family here have endeavoured to recreate the lifestyle of the thakurs (feudal lords) in all past glory. Situated in the picturesque `Godwar` region of Rajasthan, Ghanerao was founded in 1606 A D Today, standing sentinel over the villages, The Ghanerao Royal Castle is a truly magnificent edifice of red sandstone havelis (mansions), marble citadels and some miniature paintings on walls, the village is strewn with old temples, step walls and marble archways. The old fort to the south of the castle pock, marked with cannonballs and destroyed time and again, but stubbornly refusing to be vanquished.
Afternoon escorted walks through the primitive town to witness traditional styles of living and occupation.
Overnight will be in Ghanerao.
Following breakfast we ride to Narlai, stopping several times for photos and walks through the countryside to interact with and witness the life styles of the natives.
Upon arrival check into Rawla Narlai. Situated in the Narlai village, Rawla Narlai, is a 17th century fortress renovated over the years to have 15 exquisite double rooms. Rawla Narlai is full of surprises; it is situated in the heart of a typical Rajasthani village bustling with activity and bursting with colours. But, inside the Rawla (fortress) there is only serenity and stupendous view of a gigantic350 ft single rock of granite dotted with caves and temples and crowned by a statue of a white elephant – proud guardian to the open desert on one side and the crumbling Aravali hills on the other. Maharaja and Rani Swaroop Singh, and their sons oversaw the careful restoration of this hunting lodge, with aesthetics, comfort, and atmosphere that will embrace your senses. Comfortable rooms and modern bathrooms blend with the ancient way of Narlai, while offering a warm and homely atmosphere. The charming rooms are all stylised from references from the past adding more to your experience at Rawla Narlai. The chef prepares you a delicious meal, garnished with care made from Secret Recipes handed down for generations to the Royal family. In the evening bathe in the moonlight under the starry sky, listening to hypnotic and chanting rhythms by local musicians who will rekindle the sprit in you. The peace and calm of the gentle rustling leaves, the sun bathed courtyards and the star lit nights adds an air of romanticism to this wonderful fortress.
Afternoon, we would have an escorted stroll through the small town, bustling with activity and bursting with colour- perhaps pausing to see the rich handicrafts or even to design your own silver Tabiz, a ancient lucky charm, both for women and men- worn around the neck, at the silversmith.
Overnight will be in Narlai.
Wake up to the sounds of this 17-century village, and take in the spiritual energy from descending from the Shiva Temple, deep in a primal cave, on the hill overlooking your room. You may hear whispers of the early morning chanting coming from the many temples and mosques. At breakfast you are encouraged to feed the harmless monkeys, if they come down from the hills, as a token of prayer to Lord Hanuman. After breakfast we have an escorted stroll through the small bazaar, bustling with activity and bursting with colour. Afternoon at leisure.
Overnight will be in Narlai.
Following breakfast travel to Sodawas. Upon arrival, check into Sodawas Kot. Sodawas was given in Jagir (Fief) to Late Thakur Bishan Singhji by His Late Highness Maharaja Shri Umaid Singhji of Jodhpur in the Year 1943 along with two other villages, before which it was a ‘Khalsa’ Village, meaning for Three Decades it was under the direct rule of Marwar State(Jodhpur). Upon arrival you enter through a grand gateway into the Sodawas Kot, which is still owned by the family of Thakur Bishan Singhji.
The Kot has ten bedrooms and every modern amenity. The family drawing and dining rooms have been opened to receive guests in true Rajput Hospitality. Traditional Rajasthani Cuisine for which the House is well known for, is served with a mild and delicate blend of spices adapted to your taste. The family will join you and will give you an opportunity to discuss their traditions, culture and the rich heritage of Marwar erstwhile State of Jodhpur. Folk Music and dance are performed in the evening specially for us. The beautifully designed stables will interest Horse lovers. Once the much loved stallion and mare of the Late Thakur Sahib were stabled here.
Beyond the Kot walls the guest encounters breath taking green fields of mustard and wheat; and in the village, one can see artisans working on the local crafts of the region.
This afternoon we walk through the main boulevard which is wide enough to take a bullock cart. We visit the local school here to witness the kids sitting in rows on cotton mats. We also visit the colorful bazaar as well as the village temple to witness the day to day. Life here is very simple and uncomplicated and traditional virtues still intact. People here may be very poor, but they are extremely friendly and hospitable, willing to share out their meager possessions with you.
(Overnight at Sodawas Kot.)
Following breakfast we ride out to Rohet. Upon arrival check into the Rohetgarh fort.
At Rohet, one is transported in to a world of the past, a world of honour and of chivalry, of glory and of pride; a world of vibrant colours and spectacular magnificence. Past centuries come to life at the historic boundary walls of Rohet- the 16th century fortified deserted home of a Rajput clan. Within the precincts of these time weathered walls is our hotel, the impressive Rohetgarh Fort- a bastion of proud Rajput traditions bathed in the ambience of unmistakable Rajasthani culture where one can, even today experience the famed warm and courteous Rajput hospitality. Frescoes on the tall gateway, brightly painted in the traditional style, using traditional motifs and colour schemes herald your entry to this charmed world the bygone era. The gateway leads to a compound where a profusion of flowers frame the archways in welcome. The portico is a warm and informal place decorated with the artifacts and trophies of many years. Exquisitely carved furniture, delicate hand block prints, original paintings and photographs decorate your rooms, which though redolent with the romance of a bygone era, provide all the modern amenities. Antique hunting riffles, shields & spearheads, daggers and original paintings form the backdrop of the dinning room. The swimming pool here is in beautiful settings and is an oasis in a dessert. The food at Rohetgarh is special; each recipe is both traditional and typical, handed down the generations and jealously guarded to retain its pristine flavors. You savior only the very best of Rajasthani cuisine’s, food favored by the Royalty. The 16th century descendants of the Rathore ruling family still live here and host the guests. The members of the Royal family interact with the guests and interesting stories and anecdotes are narrated.
This afternoon, we would explore Rohet, which is a fascinating small feudal town, which seems to be straight out of the Arabian Nights. There is no proper road here – only one main dust trail. On either side are typical thatched houses and shops of all kinds – colourful bangles, silver jewellery, potters, fruit vendors on carts, dress shops, tailors etc.
Morning at leisure to enjoy the amazing palace hotel of whimsical charm and the surrounding fairy tale town of Rohet.
Late afternoon we enjoy jeep safaris to visit the heart of Rajasthan villages where traditions centuries old still permeate life styles. One can witness the ‘opium ceremony’ – a ritual by which guests are welcomed. Gaily attired men and women carry on their chores and one can catch a glimpse of their norms and customs. The smoothened mud floors of the village huts remind one of the simple and traditional living here.
Following breakfast, we drive to Jodhpur.
Upon arrival, check into the legendary Ajit Bhawan Palace Hotel, which is beautifully set amidst well appointed gardens.
Afternoon, proceed on a guided tour of Jodhpur. Our tour includes the massive fort. In olden days this must have been impregnable since its rocky base is scraped straight down making it nearly impossible to ascend. Once inside, royal palaces abound with fascinating history and priceless jewels, on to the armory and Jaswant Tara – the Royal Crematorium.
Tonight you have the option of participating in the New Years eve festivities hosted by your hotel.
Overnight will be in Jodhpur.
Morning at leisure to recover from the new years eve festivities of last night.
Afternoon, we would ride horse carriages to the Clock Tower Bazaar. This is one of India’s largest and most colorful whole sale markets especially with respect to clothes, fabrics, spices, vegetables etc.
Overnight will be in Jodhpur.
Following Breakfast, we ride to Jaipur. In a land steeped with heritage, picturesque with exquisite architecture, in a state vibrant with heroic memories and romance, lies the Dream City of Jaipur. The people are dynamic, martial and, need we say it ,colourful . Here every walk through the by lanes is a walk through history. Indeed, Jaipur could be compared to a vast open-air museum. Pink turbans jostle with saffron ‘odhinis’ ( ladies scarves ) . Camel’s buggies and elephants are as commonly found as motor cars and buses.
Upon arrival, check into Hotel.
Afternoon is designed for escorted walks with our guide in Jaipur’s shady animated streets – or for independent discovery. The city is best-explored on foot and only the inquisitive visitor willing to go into the rastaas (streets) and galis (lanes) will feel the spirit of the city. Jaipur’s colorful bazaars tantalize the eye with enameled blue pottery, exquisite gem-studded jewelry, engraved brass work, traditional block-printed fabrics and brightly patterned dhurrie rugs together with traditional crafts and miniature painting.
Overnight will be in Jaipur.
This morning we visit Amber Fort, the former capital of the royal Jaipur. Few fail to be moved by the dramatic Rajput grandeur of this hilltop fortress-palace 11 km north of Jaipur. Set on the dry wrinkled Aravali Hills, and surrounded by fortified battlements, the palace straddles two sepia-hued tundra hills overlooking Maota Lake, and its sprawling crenellated walls lattice the surrounding hills.
We will ride up to this hilltop palace on a caparisoned, painted elephant, passing through the ancient main gate where Maharajas of Jaipur have entered for four hundred years. Our guide will elaborate on the history of this architectural masterpiece with its mirror-studded alcoves, dazzling mosaics and water-cooled swings that delight today’s visitors as they did their former royal residents.
We shall visit the Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds, a five-storied structure of pink sandstone with semi-octagonal and delicately honeycombed windows overlooking the main street of the old city. It was built in 1799 so that veiled royal women could peer down unseen by the world through its 593 stone screens.
Following lunch, a tour Of City Palace & Observatory. The City Palace in the heart of the old city is a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. The centre of the palace is a seven storied building called Chandra Palace, with fine vies over the gardens and the city. The palace lies in the heart of the city and occupies the whole central grid. The fortified wall has seven gates and was built for protection from invading armies and animals that lived in jungles which surrounded the wall that time. Next, we visit the Solar Observatory – an astronomical treasure house, with solar device that give accurate predictions till date. The Palace Of Winds, a five-storied structure of pink sandstone has semi-octagonal and delicately honeycombed windows overlooking the main street of the old city.
Overnight will be in Jaipur.
Following breakfast we drive to Fatehpur Sikri for a guided tour. This abandoned capital of the Mughals is a perfectly preserved city at the height of the empire’s splendor. The city divided into religious and secular parts has interesting well-sculpted buildings. From here we continue riding to Agra. Upon arrival, check in to the hotel Howard Park Plaza.
Agra is the city of the Taj Mahal, perhaps the most photographed monument in the world. However, there is a degree of enigma about the Taj. Once you hear about a building so much and once you see so many pictures of a building your expectations are real high; and this is the enigma about the Taj Mahal. No matter how many pictures you have seen or no matter how high your expectations are the Taj never lets you down – the unparalleled glory and beauty of the building surpasses beyond all human imaginations. At sun set we visit the Taj Mahal to witness this spectacular monument built for love. Besides perfect symmetry in every aspect of its construction, the inlay work of semi precious stones into marble in pietra dura style is absolutely remarkable.
We would also have an opportunity to visit a marble showroom where we would be able to witness the inlay work done on marble just as at the Taj Mahal.
Overnight will be in Agra.
Following breakfast, we ride to the massive Agra Fort;. The elegant buildings inside reflect an interesting synthesis of Hindu and Central Asian architectural styles. Built by Emperor Akbar, the maze of the courtyards, mosques & private chambers of the fort echo the story of the Mughal Empire. The Moti Masjid & other magnificent buildings reflect the skill of the ancient Indian architects.
Afternoon Drive to Delhi, stopping on the way at well appointed midway restaurants for washroom facilities and refreshments.
Upon arrival, check into Hotel.
Overnight will be in Delhi.